Istanbul courts have appointed trustees to take over management of Zaman, one of the country’s largest newspapers.

The decision, issued by the Sixth Criminal Court of Peace at the request of Istanbul’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, outlines the appointment of trustees to take over management of the media group, mirroring previous legal actions that saw sister publication Bugun TV transition from a vocal opposition voice into a state-controlled media outlet in 2015.

Editorial team expresses concern

Albdülhamit Bilici: Editor-in-Chief, Zaman
Albdülhamit Bilici: Editor-in-Chief, Zaman

The paper issued notices earlier in the day expressing deep concern over the anticipated state takeover. Several writers issued what they believed to be their final columns in the popular publication, as vigils formed at Zaman’s headquarters.

Editor-in-Chief Albdülhamit Bilici pleged to continue reporting the news, evoking other attacks on freedom of expression including the recent closure of IMC TV’s broadcast channel and legal actions against Turkish academics – using the slogan Gazeteme Dokunma.

“Early edition”

Brighter days: Erdogan praises Zaman in 2012

Friday’s evening edition of the Zaman daily reportedly went to print 20 minutes earlier than usual in order to ensure publication. As outlets stocked the shelves, Zaman writers continued to stage protests outside the newspaper’s headquarters, located inIstanbul’s periphery.

Zaman has championed liberal causes in recent months, as an outspoken critic of authoritarian AK Party policies in Turkey’s embattled southeast and a supporter of freedom of expression, racial equality and human rights. Many in the country however recall times as recent as 2013 when the media group itself was closely allied with the AK Party, when the paper was notably critical of Turkey’s Gezi Park popular protests against the regime and there is widespread mistrust as to the group’s motivations.

Media and Live Stream

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